James Beard


By | Bitter | No Comments

I was thrilled to learn on Saturday morning that Bitter had won the James Beard Award for Single Subject cookbook. I was asleep in Paris when all the excitement was happening in New York City. My email was full of congratulations from friends and colleagues. It is wonderful to be nominated, but it is an even bigger thrill to win, especially against stiff competition.

Of course we had champagne in the cellar, but my husband decided to buy a cake. This is never a problem in Paris and we went to La Pâtisserie des Rêves on rue du Bac. Our gâteau of choice there is usually a Saint Honoré, we buy one every May to celebrate our wedding anniversary, so we decided to try something else. I’d just read Paris by Mouth’s choice of the best Paris-Brest and as I’m a fan of cycling, the choice was obvious, plus I like cakes with a back story.

As Paris by Mouth points out this cake was created by pastry chef Louis Durand  in 1910. The Paris-Brest bicycle race went right by his store in Maisons Laffitte a suburb of Paris.  The cake is a ring of choux pastry topped with sliced almonds, baked then split and filled with a praline cream. I’ve made this cake in cookery school, and eaten many, but I knew Philippe Conticini would create a fabulous Paris-Brest with a twist. Read the description here. To say the cream filling is light, while true doesn’t convey the richness and intensity of its hazelnut flavour and the liquid praline within is just genius. With a glass, or two  of champagne it was the perfect way to celebrate.

Thanks to everyone for their kind wishes and next time your in Paris, run to La Pâtisseries des Rêves, you can buy an individual one.